We start out in Worcester, where a couple of crazy kids are smoking pot and listening to Rush. "Tom Sawyer," specifically. True story: One of my best friends and college roommate is a huge Rush fan. Our other roommate and I went in on a nice pair of headphones for the Rush fan so he could enjoy the music and we could enjoy not hearing the music.
ANYWAY, the teenagers have the misfortune of smoking pot outside an abandoned warehouse where a couple of shapeshifters -- and an unripened shapeshifting blob -- are getting the ball rolling on a plan to bring "the Secretary" over from the alternate universe. The teens are killed, and the embryonic shapeshifter left behind for the Fringe team to find. Back at the lab, Walter uses some car batteries to shock the thing into life, which croaks out some info on the plan, which involves Newton, the man with the Omega head, to the Fringers, and apologizes to Walter specifically. For what, Walter doesn't know.
With the help of Brandon at Massive Dynamic (who for some reason conveniently has TWO METRONOMES in his lab), the gang figures out that even universes that are slightly out of sync can briefly sync up, and that's going to happen the next day at 3:31 p.m., and a little more work points to a river in Boston. So how do you stop universes from syncing up? There's an app for that! The Fringers set up their wave-synchronization-cancelling equipment on one side of the river, Newton on the other, and at the appointed time a bridge in the alternate universe starts to appear, with a man -- the Secretary, one supposes -- crossing it. We haven't seen his face, as he's shot in you-won't-believe-who-this-is fashion. But with the dying shapeshifter apologizing to Walter, good money suggests that the Secretary might be Walternate.
The vibrations from the synchronization tear apart an FBI agent who might as well have worn a red shirt, but don't affect Peter apart from knocking him on his ass and unconscious. So when he wakes up, he's figured out that between that and childhood-memory gap and his mom's suicide, he's from the other universe. He coldly tells Walter, "I'm not your son" -- not long after calling him "Dad" for the first time that we've seen -- and vanishes from the hospital.
The weirdest part was that the previews made it look like next week is a musical episode, but I must have dozed off and had a nightmare.
And then a high window on the warehouse actually explodes, with a bright light inside, showering the hood of the car with shattered glass. "I'm going to check it out," says the guy, because smoking pot doesn't make you paranoid, apparently, but an IDIOT. She just wants to go, but he says it will be fine, and gets out, and she locks the door after him.
Inside, there are noises and bright flashes coming from within an interior room, where we see a couple of crouched men all covered in goop and a third, less fully defined pile of goop.
And Buddy walks through the warehouse, not at all deterred by the weird noises or the activity that blew out a window over the car where his high girlfriend is now all by herself. He strolls into the room where we now only see the third pile of goop, which looks like it's slowly coalescing into shape. So what does this genius do? Grabs a shovel and starts jabbing at it. My guess is that he's bummed at narrowly missing out on winning a Darwin Award each year and figures he has to actually die to get one, so here's his chance. The pile of goo doesn't seem to appreciate being jabbed at, and before genius here is able to look around and find something to light it on fire, some humanoid grabs him and does that quick head-twist neck-snap thing, and just like that Buddy is dead.
Then the thing, which looks mostly like a human with no skin, grabs his special shapeshifter USB cable and jams it in the roof of Buddy's mouth, and then into his own, and within seconds we have a brand-new Buddy! Jesus, my iPod takes longer to update.
Outside, the shapeshifter-as-Dave gets a dressing-down from his girlfriend, who says he scared the hell out of her. "I want to leave here, Dave," she says. Dave's not here, man! She's not going anywhere. In the rearview mirror, she spots a second shapeshifter and screams, and then Dave attacks her and everything goes black.
After the opening credits, Peter strolls in to the Bishop home to see Walter feverishly rearranging picture frames on the bed. Peter's all "not again!" and his dad says he's just rearranging, because things are "not quite right" yet, but Peter says they're fine, like it was yesterday and the day before, and while Walter thinks a well-organized house is a sign of a well-organized mind, Peter thinks staying up all night to find the perfect place for a laundry hamper is the sign of something else entirely, and you'd think Peter would be a little more cognizant of the fact that his dad did, after all, spend 17 years in a mental institution.
Anyway, Peter cheerfully says he wants to make some pecan pie for Walter, who's come across an old family photograph of Walter and Elizabeth and their son, who had a MASSIVE head. Walter stares at it while Peter prattles on, and Walter says the pie can wait: "There's something we have to talk about."
He's dead serious about it, starting off with, "Peter, every living thing dies," and Peter doesn't even make a wisecrack. Peter, every living thing dies. Not every living thing truly lives! Walter says that's one of the hardest things for scientists to accept: "Inevitably, we can never defeat death, no matter how much we want to." Peter's cellphone rings, and he answers because it's Olivia, and she's on her way to pick them up, because apparently something's happened. Saved by the bell! Walter scurries off to get his toolkit, telling a befuddled Peter that they can talk later. After his father leaves, Peter notices the same family photo Walter was looking at, and he stares at it, frowny-faced.
Over in Worcester, Broyles shows the Fringe team the dead girl in the car -- she's now in the driver's seat and appears to be in her underwear. Her name's Jill Redmond, according to the purse found outside the car, and her neck has been snapped. And the medical examiner found three puncture wounds in her soft palate. "Shapeshifters," says Olivia, who says the last they heard from Newton and his men they were in New York. "They must have needed her identity for something," says Peter. Broyles says they're running a background check, and Olivia wants to send a photo of her to all the law-enforcements agencies to let them know that Jill "just got a hell of a lot more dangerous than she looks." Walter, who'd been poking around in the car, giddily gets out after finding a roach clip with the last bits of a joint on it, and he correctly identifies it as a "lemon zinger." "It's not as good as the stuff I grow, but it's not bad either," he says. "Well, at least she died in a happy place," says Peter, and Olivia says she's not so sure, and you think that maybe she's going to point out that someone DID snap Jill's neck, after all. Olivia just points out that Jill's wearing lipstick, but there's none on the joint. Peter wonders if maybe Jill was with someone else.
So the Fringe team starts wandering into the warehouse, which I can't believe the cops haven't already checked out, and they find Dave lying on the floor in a T-shirt and boxer shorts. Walter quickly crouches down and sticks his fingers in Dave's mouth, and finds three puncture wounds in the soft palate.
Some useless FBI agent gives the already-poking-around-the-building Fringe team the all-clear, saying the place is deserted. "Except for this," says Peter, who pulls a bit of cardboard off the not-quite-ripened pile of goo, all rubbery and fleshly, looking like it's just shy of being an actual crouching shapeshifter. You can make out its spine along the back.
Walter rushes to check it out, and Olivia asks him if he's ever seen anything like that. Walter says he thinks he has, since it seems familiar, but he's not quite sure. Then he remembers: "Reminds me of a beanbag chair I owned. 1974," he says. Olivia rolls her eyes and goes back to have a look at dead Dave, and points out that when a shapeshifter takes a body, it's because they want "access," like the one that became a nurse and then Charlie to get after Olivia. I think it's also because they'd attract an awful lot of attention walking around looking the way they do. But what would the shapeshifters want with those kids, asks Peter. Meanwhile, Walter's about to cut into the unripe pile of goo.
"You think that's a good idea?" says Broyles. "Oh, I think it's harmless enough," says Walter, not sounding terribly convincing (or even convinced). He slices down the back, and mercury seeps out. Digging his hand in, he pulls out the little shapeshifting Walkman/battery pack the things have. "How wonderful," he says.
After a commercial break, the non-teens walk into a camera shop -- the kind of shop where people from alternate universes come and ask for certain models of equipment that are actually passwords. Newton, Omega head, is the one minding the store. "The Secretary told me there would be three," he says. "There was a problem. The third didn't make it," says not-Jill, a what-are-you-gonna-do-about-it smirk on her face. "Marvelous," says Newton.
Back at the lab, Walter figures out that this shapeshifter is a little more embryonic than usual. His theory is that this is how the shapeshifters arrive in our universe; since they're partly mechanical, they handle the transition a little differently than we do. He has Peter look in the incision while he puts some goop on a slide to have a look at through the microscope. Olivia brilliantly deducts that there must have been a couple others like this who killed the teenagers and took their shapes, and Walter acknowledges that it would have been difficult for them to blend in otherwise without "features" and "human identities." "So those two teenagers were just in the wrong place at the wrong time," concludes Peter.